Project Description

General Information

The mission of Alexandria City Public Schools is to provide the environment, resources, and commitment to ensure that each and every student succeeds — academically, emotionally, physically, and socially. ACPS believes in educational excellence, in higher achievement for all, in continuous improvement and accountability, and in environmental stewardship. The ACPS School Board has adopted a Strategic Plan whose vision is to set the international standard for educational excellence, where all students achieve their potential and actively contribute to our local and global communities. The adopted Division Education plan includes the following objectives:

  • Provide clean, safe and conducive learning environments that utilize best practices for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. And integrate environmental stewardship throughout the curriculum, as well as facility design, construction and operations.
  • Ensure ACPS facilities will support a high quality, 21st century learning environment through a long-term facilities plan that enhances community schools.
  • Achieve the Eco-City vision in collaboration with the City of Alexandria.

Student enrollment in ACPS has increased 3.8% per year over the last four years and is projected to increase an average of 2.9% over the next five years. As part of the capacity expansion, the ACPS School Board has approved the construction of a new PreK-8 school to replace the existing K-5 Jefferson-Houston Elementary School. The division has three new K-8 schools in addition to Jefferson-Houston in the Capital Improvement Program Budget. A new school on the Patrick Henry site is funded beginning in FY 2013. A new school for the Cora Kelly site is requested for FY 2016, as well as one at an unnamed location for FY 2018.

The existing Jefferson-Houston school building, located at 1501 Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA, was constructed in the early 1960's as an open plan school, based on an educational curriculum model that is no longer in use. The school is within the Parker-Gray Historic District which was named for the Parker Gray School which opened in 1920. This neighborhood was listed on the National Register in part for its contribution to African American ethnic heritage. The most significant architecture in the area is nineteenth-century townhouses and row houses and twentieth-century Colonial Revival style houses.

The existing facility is a one-story all-electric building that is not energy efficient and does not meet current and future educational program requirements. It has been converted to a PreK-8 school and does not have all of the educational facilities recommended for middle school curriculum.

The school is adjacent to Alexandria's Durant Recreation Center and an outdoor city swimming pool. This will continue to be a shared public use site during and after the construction of the new school. There is also the possibility of significant archaeological remains on the site that could affect the site approval.

The site is the focus of significant community involvement and interest, and offers Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) the opportunity to build an award-winning school, for its academic facilities, its connections to the community, the design, and for its use of energy saving technology. ACPS is committed to constructing a building that will become an integral part of the historic architecture of Old Town Alexandria, and that will serve Alexandria students well for the next 50 to 75 years.

The ACPS School Board approved the budget for construction of a new state-of-the-art LEED-certified building which is designed specifically for a PreK-8 curriculum program on May 12, 2011. The new school will be approximately 120,000 square feet. The ACPS School Board has set an aggressive timetable for completion of this project so the facility will be ready to open for the 2014-15 school year. The use of modular construction techniques will facilitate meeting this timetable, and close coordination between stakeholders must also occur.

Energy efficiency and environmental responsibility are of paramount concern to the ACPS School Board. Accordingly, and in recognition of the City of Alexandria's Green Building Policy, the new school building must be designed such that it is capable of achieving certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED 2009 for Schools New Construction and Major Renovations Rating System. The level of certification shall be at least Silver, and the Proposer shall evaluate and explain the costs and benefits of pursuing higher levels of certification.

Pre-K Instructional Program

To develop the PreK-8 educational specifications, an Educational Specifications Consultant will work with ACPS instructional leaders, administrators, parents, and teachers to develop this program and detail PreK-8 Educational Specifications for ACPS review and approval.

The Educational Specifications will be the basis of design for the new PreK-8 Jefferson Houston School and several other proposed schools for ACPS. The ACPS School Board has set an aggressive timetable for completion of this project so the facility will be ready to open for the 2014-2015 school year. To meet this timetable, close coordination must occur at all times by the stakeholders.

The overall project will be managed by the Project Manager.

Site Considerations

The existing Jefferson-Houston Elementary school is a single story 83,385 square foot facility that is located on 10.0 acres. The school is adjacent to an existing City Recreation Center and swimming pool complex. All three facilities share parking facilities on this site.

The existing city facilities shall remain in operation during all phases of the project. The exact phasing of the school construction and demolition has yet to be determined. The architect, in coordination with the Educational Specifications Consultant and other representatives of ACPS, will develop a phasing plan that allows all existing facilities (school, rec center, swimming pool, and parking lots) to operate during all phases of the project.

Capital Improvement Budget

The currently proposed CIP budget for this project is $35.9 million, programmed in FY2012-2014. This includes construction of a new 120,000 square feet school, stormwater management allowance, and demolition of the existing school facility. These budgeted funds are preliminary and may be revised after approval of the PreK-8 instructional program educational specifications.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

The City of Alexandria adopted a Green Building Policy in 2009 that sets the expectation that all new development will achieve a LEED Silver rating.

The LEED green building certification program is an internationally recognized system for providing verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across five metrics: energy savings, water efficiency, carbon emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

The LEED for Schools Rating System recognizes the unique nature of the design and construction of K-12 schools. It addresses issues such as classroom acoustics, master planning, mold prevention and environmental site assessment. LEED for Schools provides a unique, comprehensive tool for schools that wish to build green, with measurable results. LEED certified schools are healthy for students, comfortable for teachers, and cost-effective.

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PK-8 School Educational Specifications Executive Summary

Educational Specifications: A User's Guide (PDF)

The Educational Specifications (Ed Specs) document provides a written means of communication between stakeholders and design professionals. The purpose of this document is to articulate the educational and community needs and how they relate to the physical environment for Pre-K through Grade 8 schools in Alexandria City Public Schools. The goal is to provide facilities that will support those needs through flexible learning environments that will support Alexandria, VA for many years to come.

Therefore, these facilities must be flexible and dynamic to support evolving programs over time. This Educational Specifications document will provide relevant information for each type of space being designed in a PK-8 school in ACPS and should be consulted throughout the design process. In order to provide consistency in PK-8 schools built in the future, please use this document as a tool during the design process for each facility.

View the entire document (PDF)